NewsHell breaks loose. Terrifying Russian weapon capable of scorching the earth

Hell breaks loose. Terrifying Russian weapon capable of scorching the earth

Images source: © Wikimedia Commons | EVGENIY KEL

2:04 PM EDT, November 4, 2023

The TOS-1 and TOS-2 are horrifying weapons with capabilities to scorch the earth to its very core. There is no possibility of hiding or protecting oneself from them. Despite the Geneva Convention prohibiting the use of thermobaric weapons against civilian targets, the Russians impose little regard for this restriction, deploying these weapons in the most challenging sectors and burning Ukrainian villages with fire.

Those unfortunate enough to be hit by a thermobaric weapon are often met with horrific outcomes that can include being boiled alive. This is why the Geneva Convention has many restrictions on its use, including prohibitions against targeting civilian facilities, residential buildings, and public squares.

The Russians are deploying the tracked TOS-1 system and the wheeled TOS-2 system in Ukraine. The Transmash design bureau in Omsk developed both of these back in the 1970s with the first prototype created in 1978. Just two years later, the TOS-1 passed state tests and was recommended for use in the Soviet Army.

The current version in use, the modified TOS-1A Solntsepyok system, is a self-propelled launcher with 24 tubes, each carrying 220 mm caliber thermobaric rocket missiles. The BM-1 vehicle, built on the adapted chassis of the T-72 or T-90 tank, carries it. In addition, it has two TZM-T ammunition vehicles on standby, each holding an extra 12 missiles.

The entire load of the firing unit takes between 25-30 minutes while preparing the BM-1 for firing takes less than two minutes. Unloading a complete salvo takes up to 12 seconds. These unguided missiles have a range between approximately 3.7 to 6.2 miles.

Unleashing hell upon impact

The havoc wrought by a missile impact is immense and deadly. The primary purpose of these missiles is the destruction of fortifications, making the idea of seeking shelter futile. The resultant shockwave, along with the extremely high temperature, can break bones, crush internal organs, burn the respiratory tract, and melt skin.

Belsat describes it like this, "Upon impact on the target, a small charge disperses flammable material in the air, creating an explosive mixture. Then this mixture is ignited, causing an explosion that draws oxygen from the surrounding area and is stronger than a traditional bomb of the same size."

The weapon can cause long-lasting effects that are often more dangerous than immediate death. They may cause minimal brain tissue damage and severe damage to the inner ear, lungs, and other organs. As a result, victims may die slowly over several minutes following the explosion.

Continuing devastation for 34 years

The system was first used in combat towards the end of the war in Afghanistan. In January 1989 during Operation Typhoon in the Panjshir Valley, the thermobaric missiles' power was first displayed. The result was lethal, especially in mountainous areas where the hot shock wave could ricochet off rock walls, decimating everything in its path.

Thereafter, the Russians used the system in Komsomolskoye in Chechnya to conquer the enemy's defense. Later in 2014, it was used in Lugansk airport, providing undeniable proof of Kremlin's role in supplying arms to terrorists in Donbass. Also, the Iraqi army utilized this weapon during the battle of Tikrit. The Russians again put it to use in Syria two years later.

During the full-scale operation in Ukraine, the TOS-1 came back into service on February 28, targeting the Ukrainian defense when the Russian armored-mechanized column proved inadequate. TOS-s were then deployed under Belgorod to shell positions across the border.

Deployment of TOS-s in Ukraine

Even without tangible evidence of this weapon use at that particular time, the reports raised immediate concerns. Brent Eastwood, a former US Army officer, viewed the TOS-1 as "Vladimir Putin's most potent non-nuclear weapon."

"It launches not only shrapnel and destructive warheads, but also incendiary rockets, causing horrific fires that maim and kill in a manner similar to napalm," he commented.

Just a few days later, the British Ministry of Defense announced that it had evidence of thermobaric weapons being used in Ukraine. The TOS-1A had struck in the city of Okhtyrka in the Sumy region, northeastern Ukraine.

TOS-2's role

The considerable weight of the TOS system, about 101,412 lbs (rounded up to 101,500 lbs), is its main drawback. This was a considerable obstacle during rapid operations in Ukraine. The need for a lighter carrier was evident after the battles near Lugansk and the operations in Syria. Work on integrating a wheeled chassis began in 2016.

Four years later, these vehicles were displayed for the first time during the May parade on Red Square, featuring an 18-missile launcher placed on a six-wheeled Ural high-mobility chassis with an armored cabin. The production versions were equipped with three rows of launch containers, each holding eight rockets.

The TOS-2 made its combat debut in May 2022, when the Russians used it to defend themselves on the Donetsk line. In recent months, they reappeared near Lyman and during the battle for Vuhledar. Although there are no known photographs of destroyed TOS-2 machines yet, the Ukrainians have reportedly destroyed nearly 10 TOS-1A vehicles.

Based on intelligence reports, the Russians sent about 50 TOS to Ukraine. These are being utilized wherever severe inadequacies are identified. The latest reports indicate their deployment near Avdiivka, where they continue to scorch the Ukrainian land with fire.

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